A Trojan Pep Talk

    Jessica Musmanno and Dennis Portillo met to talk soccer and academics in Heritage Hall.

    March 13, 2014

    This past Thursday, Jessica Musmanno of women's soccer was interviewed by local middle school student Dennis Portillo as part of his yearlong research project, I-Search.

    The I-Search program has become common in schools around the country, as it allows young students to engage in topics they are passionate about through directed study.

    "I chose soccer because I've always liked the sport. We're at the stage where we conduct interviews, and my teacher said to reach out to colleges," explained Portillo.

    Musmanno is a junior from New Jersey whose physicality on the field makes her a powerful asset at forward for the Trojans. Her dedication to the game and open personality provided a perfect match for Portillo.

    The interview began tentatively in Heritage Hall, but once the two discovered their shared admiration for FC Barcelona and common desire to meet Lionel Messi, the conversation flourished.

    Portillo's interview focused on Musmanno's origins as a soccer player, her pre-game ritual, the making of a great team, and her views on the sport's future.

    Musmanno stated that she began playing at four years old, and that her older sister was always an inspiration. She also began playing in the wake of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup victory.

    Portillo then asked about the composition of a great team and striker.

    "A great team is one that has individuals willing to work hard for each other: players that are willing to sacrifice individual needs for greater needs of the team," responded Musmanno. "A great striker has confidence, is willing to take risks, and can always create opportunities for others around the net."

    The interview provided another gleaming example of the women's soccer team's continued dedication to the community and the academics of local students.

    At the end of their conversation, Musmanno invited her new fan to attend a game next fall and left him with the best advice any player can share with a young athlete:



    "Always have fun. Some lose the joy of playing the game along the way, but the very best just have fun."